Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Family Planning welcomes the release of a new survey exploring attitudes toward gender in New Zealand. Researchers surveyed just over 1,200 New Zealanders about a broad range of topics related to gender including family responsibilities, work and health care. The survey included questions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as contraception and sexuality and relationships education. The first of its kind, the survey provides us with a snapshot of current attitudes toward gender at a critical time when issues related to power, gender and rights – think #metoo campaign – are under the microscope.
A promising finding was that the vast majority of New Zealanders – 79% - think that gender equality is a fundamental right. This is a positive foundation for moving forward to realise gender equality and have it evidenced in health and social outcomes, every day environments and relationships.
Another positive result was that 83% of the survey respondents agreed that contraception should be the responsibility of both men and women. This reflects the characteristics of healthy sexual relationships where both partners are responsible for communicating to ensure consent and to prevent sexually transmissible infections and unintended pregnancy. Both partners should be feel empowered to initiate these conversations.
The majority of respondents (55%) felt that gender equality has a positive impact on improved access to health care services. This reflects an understanding that the health needs of all genders are not necessarily adequately met. For example, women are currently more likely to experience cost barriers to visiting a GP (NZ Health Survey) than men.
Unfortunately the survey was not all positive. There was evidence of harmful stereotypes about gender and misinformation about the role of gender in health and social outcomes.
For example, the survey shows that there is still little of understanding about the impact of gender inequality on rates of sexual and domestic violence. Only about 40% of respondents see a connection between gender inequality and sexual and domestic violence. Discrimination against women enables and perpetuates domestic and sexual violence where women are far most likely to be the victim and men are far more likely to be the perpetrator. Particularly where women are increasingly disclosing sexual harassment and abuse, it is important to promote understanding about how gender stereotypes in society can be harmful.
This survey is a valuable tool to help us consider what we currently understand about gender, and what works needs to be done to break down harmful stereotypes and systems to achieve gender equality in New Zealand.
For more information about the survey, visit https://genderequal.nz/ga-survey/
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